Sunday, March 02, 2008

Socked In

Yesterday I was planning to take a friend C for a flight. We had already cancelled once before due to high winds. The forecast was for marine layer clouds to burn off by 10-11 am, with 30% cloud cover and a high of 67 to 70, so it should have been flyable. Lack of lift would be fine, because this was to be a first flight for her, and I planned to take it easy (no steep turns) until she said she was OK - I don't like to make people sick.

The clouds never cleared and the temp only got to about 60F. No one flew until some student pattern flights at about 1:00 or so. The ceiling was reported to be 1200' AGL by AWOS. The student flights could not go above 700-800' to avoid busting the 500' minimum distance below clouds. They quit after two flights and we all went home. Bummer for my friend!!

I stepped into the Ground School class to do a 5-minute review of my Weight and Balance session from last week. I had given them an assignment to calculate the minimum and maximum passenger weights that they could carry in the Blanik, with the pilot in either the front or rear seat. About 75% of them had done it. Some picked up on some nuances, which shows they thought it through, which is what I really wanted. For example, with a front-seat pilot, there is no minimum rear-seat passenger weight (or else how would you solo?). With a rear-seat pilot, there is a minimum front-passenger weight - you CANNOT fly solo from the rear seat. I wanted them to have a mental image of what their passenger limits are... if a proposed passenger is well within your personal range, you don't really need to calculate W&B for every flight, only if the passenger is near your limits. Others correctly calculated the absolute maximum limits - some absurd weight combinations such as 65 lbs and 360 lbs. Others found that it is possible to exceed the maximum weight limit before exceeding the CG limits. So I think they really learned the concepts pretty well!

No comments: